Capitals punch ticket to Stanley Cup Final

May 24, 2018 - 9:27 am

The drought is finally over in the nation’s capital as the Washington Capitals are heading to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 years.

Washington grabbed another road win in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, grabbing a 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

The scoring started early as Alex Ovechkin was able to snipe one past goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy just 62-seconds into the game. Ovechkin let go of a one-timer from the top of the faceoff circle off a beautiful cross-ice pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov to silence the fans at Amalie Arena. It was Ovechkin’s 12th goal of the playoffs.

After giving up that opening goal, the Lightning were determined to even the score and gave the Capitals a run for their money. They ended up out-shooting the Capitals 10-9 in the opening period, and continued to put up the pressure into the second period.

At the 8:59 mark of the second period, the Capitals extended their lead after a Lars Eller dump in goes off Dan Girardi’s chest and Andre Burakovsky was able to find the loose puck. Burakovsky was then able to find himself alone in front of Vasilevskiy, where he put a wrist shot past Vasilevskiy’s right side to give Washington a 2-0 lead.

Just a few minutes before the end of the second, John Carlson found a loose puck and kissed it off the boards into the neutral zone where Burakovsky was waiting as the Lightning were in the midst of a line change. Burakovsky made the most of his breakaway chance and was able to find Vasilevskiy’s five-hole to give the Capitals a 3-0 lead.

After two periods of play, the Lightning out-shot the Capitals 22-15 and got a majority of the scoring chances. However, it seemed like Tampa Bay ran out of gas in the third period as their desperation level was at a low.

With time running out and the Lightning net empty, the puck bounced around behind the cage and after a few deflections, Nicklas Backstrom found the puck in the crease and simply tapped it into the empty net. It gave the Capitals a 4-0 lead with less than four minutes left, and was the final dagger for the Lightning's season.

Braden Holtby was stellar in net for the Capitals once again, stopping all 29 shots he faced for the win. Holtby extended a shutout streak that goes back to the second period of Game 5 in Tampa Bay, where he's turned away 60 consecutive shots on goal.

The Capitals will now head to Las Vegas, Nevada to get ready for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday night at T-Mobile Arena. Faceoff is scheduled for 8 p.m., and can be heard on WGR Sports Radio 550.

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